Ice packs help keep packed lunches and groceries chilled, and they also come in handy for outdoor activities like camping and road trips. But with so many different types and cooling capabilities from brands like YETI, Cooler Shock, and Igloo, it can be difficult to decide which one to choose.
We've compared seven bestselling ice packs available online and tested them to recommend the best ones for you.
We tested each product for the following:
Which product ended up being the best of the best? We'll also tell you how to pick the best ice packs in our buying guide, so read on for more shopping tips.
As head of outdoor gear, Masaki has extensive experience testing and evaluating products for camping and outdoor recreation, including camping tables and grills. Focusing on major brands such as Coleman, Snow Peak, and Logos, Masaki has personally tested over 100 products. Driven by the philosophy of "Choosing gear even beginners can enjoy," Masaki creates content that is focused on the needs and perspectives of the user and hopes to provide valuable insight and recommendations for anyone looking to make the most of their time outside.
When using an ice pack, the first concern is its cooling ability. Ideally, it should prevent food from spoiling and keep beverages nice and cold. Here’s how we tested and rated cooling power. First, inside a lunch bag, we placed an ice pack and a can containing 10 ounces of room-temperature water at approximately 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, we inserted a thermometer to measure the temperature in real-time.We left the lunch bag in a room at 90 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours. After 24 hours, we checked the lowest recorded water temperature. We evaluated the products based on the difference between the lowest recorded and initial water temperatures, giving higher ratings to those that maintained lower temperatures.
A good ice pack should stay cold for a long time. Here’s how we tested the cooling duration. First, inside a lunch bag, we placed an ice pack and a can containing 10 ounces of room-temperature water, approximately 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, we inserted a thermometer to measure the temperature in real-time.We left the lunch bag in a 90-degree Fahrenheit room for 24 hours. After 24 hours, we checked the temperature recordings and calculated how long the water temperature remained below 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher ratings were given to products that maintained a water temperature below 59 degrees Fahrenheit for over six hours. We based this six-hour benchmark on the time between preparing lunch at six in the morning and lunchtime at noon. For evaluation, we used a temperature range of 54 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, considered ideal for drinking water and good for health (Source: PROCOOL).
Ice packs are commonly used when packing a lunch or going grocery shopping. We rated products that require minimal preparation, had short refreezing times, and incorporated numerous user-friendly features for everyday use. Consider these six key factors to ensure they easily fit into your daily routine.Was there condensation?Was there leakage?Is it dishwasher-safe?Is the refreezing time under eight hours? (If this was not stated, it was scored zero points.)Are the contents non-toxic?Does it need to be filled?
All product tests
were conducted in-house at mybest
Table of Contents
We all know that ice packs help keep things cool, but you might wonder if you need them for the short span between preparing lunch in the morning and lunchtime. Here, we'll discuss when an ice pack is necessary and the benefits of using one.
You might think ice packs are only necessary on hot summer days. In reality, ice packs are essential when the temperature rises above 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Most bacteria that cause food poisoning, such as staphylococcus aureus, vibrio parahaemolyticus, and salmonella, thrive in temperatures between 68 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, and their growth accelerates at temperatures above 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Therefore, keeping your lunch at a temperature of 66 degrees Fahrenheit or lower can help prevent the growth of bacteria (Source: NIC). While 68 degrees may feel cool, it is within the range conducive to bacterial activity, making it a dangerous threshold. To prevent food poisoning, it's best to use ice packs to keep your lunch and drinks cool every day, not just on hot days.
When it comes to keeping food and drinks cool, you can either use ice packs or ice. How should you decide which one to use? To get the best results when cooling your food and drinks, it's important to choose according to the situation.
Ice packs and ice each have their unique qualities. To effectively keep food and drinks cool, it's necessary to choose the right one based on the situation. Ice packs can be refrozen and used again, making them suitable for everyday lunch bags. They are easy to maintain since they don't leave water behind when they melt, making them convenient for daily use.
Although ice packs have less cooling power than ice, they can keep things cool for around four to eight hours, which is more than enough for the five to six hours from preparing lunches in the morning until lunchtime.
On the other hand, ice is used directly in hard and soft coolers, making it ideal for outdoor leisure activities. Ice lasts longer, so it can keep items chilled for extended periods, allowing you to enjoy ice-cold beverages throughout the day. However, when the ice melts, it creates water that needs to be dealt with, making it more suitable for outdoor situations where water disposal is more manageable.
When selecting an ice pack, the first thing to consider is cooling power and cooling duration. Our tests revealed a significant difference in cooling power among different products.
In our cooling power test, we found significant differences between products. However, performance wasn’t tied to the type of ice pack or ice pack content, so if you want high cooling power, we recommend choosing based on our testing results.
To test cooling power, we placed a lunch bag containing room-temperature water of approximately 73 degrees Fahrenheit and an ice pack in a room at around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, we measured the water temperature after 24 hours to assess cooling power and duration. The best-performing ice pack cooled the water to 50.8 degrees Fahrenheit, while the least effective one only cooled water to 64.94 degrees Fahrenheit, a difference of 14.12 degrees.
The cooling duration tests revealed significant differences in longevity. The best ice packs maintained a water temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for seven hours and 20 minutes, while the worst lasted just three hours and 20 minutes. Ice packs with high cooling power and longevity are suitable for your daily lunch and outdoor leisure activities that require cooling for long periods.
Gel-type ice packs are the best choice if you want to keep your lunch cool until lunchtime. This section will explain why we recommend gel-type ice packs and discuss the best ones to buy.
From the time you prepare lunch in the morning until lunchtime, you'll need to keep your lunch cool for around five to six hours. When using an ice pack to keep your lunch cool, choose one that can stay cool for at least six hours. In the cooling duration test, many gel ice packs could stay cool for six hours.
The longest lasting was seven hours, 20 minutes, enough to stay cool until around one in the afternoon if you prepare your lunch early in the morning. The cooling time you'll need will depend on when you prepare the lunch and what time you eat. Ice packs that can stay cool for more than six hours can be used in various situations, so see our testing results to choose one that can last for more than six hours.
The advantage of gel-type ice packs is that they are lighter and more portable than hard case types. They’re not bulky, so they are easy to tuck into spaces inside lunch bags, and using multiple packs won’t add much weight.
In contrast, hard-case ice packs tend to be thicker and heavier. They can weigh down lunch bags, making them difficult to carry when using multiple ice packs.
Some gel-type ice packs require more effort than others. Those that only need to be placed in the freezer are easy to get ready and can be used the next day without any hassle. Other types of ice packs will require you to add water and wait for a gel to form before putting them in the freezer, which can be time-consuming. After they’re set up once, they can be refrozen repeatedly, but it can take time if you’re using multiple packs.
Of the products we tested, the Below Zero Pre-Filled Ice Pack was exceptional for keeping food and beverages cold for extended periods without the hassle of preparation. Its impressive cooling power can cool room-temperature water from around 73 to 52 degrees Fahrenheit.
Furthermore, it maintains water temperature below 59 degrees Fahrenheit for seven hours and 20 minutes, ensuring your lunch stays chilled from early morning until lunchtime. If you're looking for an everyday ice pack, consider this product.
Hard case ice packs are recommended when using ice packs alongside ice for outdoor activities. In this section, we'll tell you the best ones we found and explain why we recommend them for outdoor use.
During outdoor leisure activities such as camping and road trips, it may take a while from when you leave home until dinner time. In these situations, it's ideal to have ice packs that can maintain their cooling power for over eight hours to ensure your food and beverages stay chilled.
However, our tests showed no ice packs could maintain cooling for more than eight hours. When you want extended cooling during outdoor leisure activities, using multiple ice packs along with ice is recommended. That said, there is a significant difference in cooling duration among hard ice packs. Refer to our testing results to choose one with a longer cooling time.
A significant advantage of ice packs in hard cases is their durability. They are made of high-strength plastic materials, making them sturdy and resistant to damage even when handled roughly. This durability benefits outdoor leisure activities, where the ice pack will be used with ice and subject to impacts.
In addition, unlike gel-type ice packs, the hard types don’t deform when frozen, making them easy to stack on top of ice, food, or beverages. Stackability allows for efficient use of cooler box space and storing more items.
Among the products tested, the YETI Ice is the best hard type ice pack for outdoor activities. In our tests, it could cool room temperature water down to about 56 degrees Fahrenheit and keep the temperature below 59 degrees for six hours and 20 minutes.
This ice pack offers the highest cooling power among hard case types. Using it combined with ice can keep food and beverages cold during outdoor activities. Additionally, the heavy-duty plastic case makes it suitable for outdoor use. If you're looking for an ice pack for camping or road trips, put the YETI Ice at the top of your list.
Three factors contribute to how user-friendly ice packs are: refreezing time, leakage, and condensation. When selecting an ice pack, pay particular attention to refreezing time.
Ice packs can vary in their refreezing, so it's essential to know how long it takes for an ice pack to refreeze. As a rule of thumb, choose an ice pack with a refreezing time of less than eight hours. Ice packs that refreeze in under eight hours will be ready to use by the time you wake up if you place them in the freezer before bed.
In contrast, products taking more than 12 hours to refreeze may not be fully frozen by morning, meaning you won't be able to take full advantage of their cooling power. In this case, you'll need to either be strategic about placing the ice pack in the freezer or purchasing multiple ice packs and rotating their use.
When using ice packs, whether or not they leak can be a big concern. None of the products tested experienced any leakage. Although all the products functioned without issues, always practice proper use. Be especially cautious with the gel types or those with caps, as they might be damaged if handled roughly.
Another concern is whether condensation will form on the ice pack. Condensation can cause the inside of your lunch box or lunch bag to become wet. In our tests, all products had some condensation. When using an ice pack, assume that condensation will occur and take necessary precautions. For example, you can place a towel between the ice pack and your food or wrap the ice pack in plastic wrap to minimize dampness.
Click to purchase
Ease of use
Min. water temperature
Time water temperature kept below 59℉
Pre-filled Ice Pack
mybest's Top Choice! Keeps Your Lunch Chilled and Is Easy for Everyday Use
Gel with natural AFP
Nylon reinforced aluminum
Premium Ice Pack
High Cooling Power in a Lightweight and Easy-to-Carry Design
Below freezing point
Long-Lasting Cooling and Durability for Outdoor Activities
Reliable Cooling With Minimal Preparation for Everyday Use
Below freezing point
Fit + Fresh
Fit + Fresh | XL Cool Coolers
User-Friendly, but Doesn't Cool as Well or as Long
Simple to Use, but Struggles With Cooling in Hot Conditions
No Prep Time or Leakage, but Doesn’t Keep Items Cool Until Lunchtime
Below Zero's Pre-filled Ice Pack is primarily available online and comes in a set of 10 with a strong nylon-aluminum exterior. During testing, this ice pack demonstrated its impressive cooling capabilities by bringing room temperature water of 73 degrees Fahrenheit down to 52.2 degrees in a 90-degree room. It effectively reduces the risk of bacterial growth and ensures you'll have a cold beverage on even the hottest days.
It keeps water below 59 degrees for seven hours and 20 minutes, too. Even when preparing lunches early in the morning, and it will keep your lunch and beverages chilled until lunchtime. Though there was some condensation, the ice pack's contents didn't leak. With no initial setup required, just toss it in the freezer and it's ready for use the next day. Refreezing takes at least 24 hours, but the set of 10 ice packs allows for easy rotation.
This easy-to-use ice pack keeps your lunch and drinks chilled, even on hot days. It is highly recommended for anyone who uses a lunch bag with ice packs daily.
|Refrigerant||Gel with natural AFP|
|Shell material||Nylon reinforced aluminum|
Cooler Shock's Premium Ice Pack comes in various types and sizes. Made with durable nylon material, it is available in Lunch Box Size, Cooler Size, and All-Purpose options. This review focuses on the Lunch Box Size. With its impressive cooling ability, it cooled room temperature water down to 51.1 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for keeping lunch cool during hot summer days and reducing the risk of food poisoning. With the ability to cool down to almost 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it is also suitable for chilling alcoholic beverages.
The ice pack maintained a water temperature below 59 degrees Fahrenheit for just over six hours, showcasing its lasting power. Prepare your lunch in the early morning, and it will keep your food and drinks chilled until lunchtime. However, there is some preparation required, as you need to add water to the pack and let it gel before freezing. Refreezing takes 12 hours, but it comes as a set of five ice packs, so you can use them in rotation.
This ice pack excels in cooling power and keeps your lunch chilled until mealtime. It is highly recommended for those who desire a cold drink even on the hottest summer days.
|Temperature rating||Below freezing point|
This ice pack by YETI comes in one-, two-, and four-pound sizes. For this review, we tested the two-pound size. During testing, the ice pack cooled room temperature water down to 56.5 degrees Fahrenheit. While it didn't cool the water to near 50 degrees, it can effectively suppress bacteria growth during summer. For better cooling of larger quantities of food and beverages, consider using multiple ice packs.
It maintained water temperatures below 59 degrees Fahrenheit for six hours and 20 minutes, showcasing its long-lasting cooling capabilities. Not only will it last until lunchtime, but when used with ice, it keeps food and drinks chilled for extended periods during outdoor activities. Condensation will occur, but there’s no leakage, and no preparation is required. Just place it in the freezer upon arrival, and it's ready to use the next day.
This ice pack offers long-lasting cooling and high durability, making it ideal for those who use it with ice during camping trips or road trips.
Tourit's gel-based ice pack comes in Lunch Size, Large Size, and Normal Size options. We tested the Lunch Size for this review. The ice pack cooled room temperature water down to 56.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it didn't cool the water to near 50 degrees, it still provides adequately chilled beverages even on hot summer days. For colder temperatures, consider using more ice packs.
Additionally, it maintained water temperatures below 59 degrees Fahrenheit for five hours and 40 minutes. This demonstrates its lasting power, as it can keep food and beverages chilled from morning preparation until nearly noon. In terms of convenience, you will need to add water to the pack and allow it to gel before freezing. However, its non-toxic gel is safe for food and human contact, and with a refreezing time of less than eight hours, it's an appealing option for daily use.
|Temperature rating||Below freezing point|
The Fit + Fresh XL Cool Coolers are a set of four hard case ice packs. In testing, these ice packs cooled water to 57.7 degrees Fahrenheit, providing only moderate cooling. While they did lower water temperature below 59 degrees Fahrenheit, they might not be sufficient for those who prefer ice-cold drinks. To enhance cooling, consider using more ice packs or sandwiching food and drinks between them.
In addition, these ice packs only maintained water temperatures below 59 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours and 20 minutes, which might not be enough to keep items cool from morning until lunchtime. On a positive note, these ice packs were rated highly for their ease of use. They require no preparation, so you can simply place them in the freezer and start using them the next day. The ice packs don’t leak and are made from non-toxic, BPA-free materials, ensuring food safety and human health.
The Igloo Ice Block is available in small, medium, large, and extra large sizes. This review focuses on the medium size. During testing, the ice pack only cooled water to 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a disappointing evaluation. It may not be suitable for hot summer days, as it struggles to chill food and beverages adequately. For better cooling, try using more ice packs or sandwiching items between them.
The ice pack also failed to maintain water temperatures below 59 degrees Fahrenheit, earning a low rating for cooling duration. It is recommended to use multiple ice packs not only in lunch bags but also when used with ice for outdoor leisure activities. As for positives, the ice pack doesn’t leak and is made from non-toxic materials. There is no need for preparation, just place it in the freezer, and it is ready for use the next day.
Thrive Ice Packs come in a set of four uniquely designed ice packs and are primarily sold online. During cooling power testing, the ice packs could only cool room temperature water down to 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a low rating. They might not provide adequate cooling for food and beverages, especially during hot summer days. For better cooling, even in moderate temperatures, you may need to increase the number of ice packs used.
Furthermore, the ice packs failed to maintain water temperatures below 59 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a disappointing evaluation for lasting power. To reduce foodborne illness risk, consider using multiple ice packs and placing them strategically around your food and drinks. On the other hand, the ice packs scored highly in ease-of-use testing. They require no initial preparation, so you can simply place them in the freezer and use them the next day. They don’t leak during use and are made of BPA-free materials, ensuring food safety and human health.
We tested seven best-selling ice packs from major retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart to determine our most recommended ice pack. At mybest, we define a superior ice pack as one that maintains a low temperature for an extended period, requires little effort, and is easy to use daily.
We evaluated the products based on the following criteria.
Products we tested
When using an ice pack, the first concern is its cooling ability. Ideally, it should prevent food from spoiling and keep beverages nice and cold. Here’s how we tested and rated cooling power. First, inside a lunch bag, we placed an ice pack and a can containing 10 ounces of room-temperature water at approximately 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, we inserted a thermometer to measure the temperature in real-time.
We left the lunch bag in a room at 90 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours. After 24 hours, we checked the lowest recorded water temperature. We evaluated the products based on the difference between the lowest recorded and initial water temperatures, giving higher ratings to those that maintained lower temperatures.
A good ice pack should stay cold for a long time. Here’s how we tested the cooling duration. First, inside a lunch bag, we placed an ice pack and a can containing 10 ounces of room-temperature water, approximately 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, we inserted a thermometer to measure the temperature in real-time.
We left the lunch bag in a 90-degree Fahrenheit room for 24 hours. After 24 hours, we checked the temperature recordings and calculated how long the water temperature remained below 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher ratings were given to products that maintained a water temperature below 59 degrees Fahrenheit for over six hours.
We based this six-hour benchmark on the time between preparing lunch at six in the morning and lunchtime at noon. For evaluation, we used a temperature range of 54 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, considered ideal for drinking water and good for health (Source: PROCOOL).
Ice packs are commonly used when packing a lunch or going grocery shopping. We rated products that require minimal preparation, had short refreezing times, and incorporated numerous user-friendly features for everyday use. Consider these six key factors to ensure they easily fit into your daily routine.
No. 1：Below Zero ｜Pre-filled Ice Pack
No. 2：Cooler Shock｜Premium Ice Pack｜43237-2
No. 4：Tourit｜Ice Pack｜TR2401007AN025-FCA
No. 5：Fit + Fresh｜Fit + Fresh｜XL Cool Coolers｜239ICE
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When you purchase products mentioned in the article, part of the sales may be returned to mybest.
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